The “Minimum vieillesse” is the first social allowance whose objective aims to guarantee minimum income to the elderly not having pensions or those with low revenues by granting a differential allowance contingent upon their resources. This plan, composed of numerous allowances created beginning in 1941, underwent a first reform in 1956 with the establishment of a supplementary allowance for all beneficiaries in order to guarantee them an identical minimum allowance level. A new reform in 2004 notably allowed this complex system to be simplified. Since the beginning of the 1970s, when the social insurance schemes matured, the number of beneficiaries has steadily decreased and only concerned 6% of people over 65 years of age in 2005. By examining the people benefiting from this assistance, this study shows that the majority of the beneficiaries are women and people living alone. The minimum income guarantee, destined to fight against poverty among the elderly, was the essential plan in social protection for the elderly from its creation until the beginning of the 1970s. The financial situation of solidarity allowance for old people beneficiaries, which has stopped to improve since 2000, remains today tightly linked to the household’s family configuration. And among them, some very elderly women, most often living alone, live in very poor conditions.
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